What do 83 Mustangs, 21 Corvettes, 10 Cadillacs, plus more than 80 other vehicles all made in USA add up to? A great day out, that’s what! Everyone who had the privilege of being at the Wharepai Domain near Tauranga’s central business district on Sunday, November 16, 2014 had plenty of sheet metal to admire.
The good number of Mustangs was not surprising given the event was organized by members of the Bay of Plenty Mustang Owners Club, and the fact the model was born 50 years previously, in 1964. To mark the anniversary, the Mustangs were grouped by year of manufacture.
Bay of Plenty Mustang Owners Club President, Dave Flett, owns two Mustangs, as do many other members. However, Dave and his wife Julie own one of the oldest in New Zealand — a 1964½ — and one of the newest, a 2014 California Special. In fact they purchased their new Mustang exactly 50 years to the day since the early Mustang was first registered on May 11, 1964. Dave explained that it was a deal they couldn’t pass up at the end of the visit he and Julie, and seven other couples from the Bay of Plenty, made to attend the 50th Anniversary Mustang Convention in Las Vegas, USA, which was attended by more than 6000 Mustangs. Who would have thought all those years ago that six model generations and 50 years later the car that gave rise to the generic term pony car would be still be galloping along? The sixth-generation Mustang will for the first time be manufactured in right-hand drive form for sale brand-new through New Zealand dealerships, and is due to arrive late this year.
Mustang Owners Club cars from Taranaki and Auckland made the Bay of Plenty trip, and indications are that both clubs will make this a regular run in their annual schedule of activities.
But the day wasn’t just about Mustangs. If my maths is correct, if you weren’t a Mustang fan there were more than 100 other cars to drool over. The Corvette clubs had a multi-model kaleidoscope of colour line-up. The oldest one was a 1961 first-generation convertible gleaming and resplendent in the Bay of Plenty sun. The Auckland Corvette Club won the Best Represented Club prize donated by Tauranga Insurance Services.
There were Cadillacs enough to prove the brand is the business when it comes to American cars. Those from the mid 20th Century were gloriously impractical to modern eyes, but epitomize the post-war glamour that antipodeans imagined every American enjoyed.
Sporty models from Mopar provided the counterpoint to opulent cruisers. Light commercials, mostly Ford and Chev workhorses, proved that American vehicles were not just high-powered turnpike cruisers.
There was no representation from the military vehicle clubs at this event — they were probably called up for security duties protecting the G20 leaders at their summit, which happened over the same weekend in Brisbane. Never mind, peace-keeping duties were not needed at the Domain on Sunday.
Dave explained that it was fitting, given the peaceful and happy atmosphere, that proceeds from this year’s show went to Waipuna Hospice. The club supports a different good cause each year, and it seemed appropriate that having supported the Child Cancer Foundation from the previous event, folks mostly at the other end of the age spectrum should benefit this time.
As Dave pointed out the club is extremely grateful for the support provided by the event’s main sponsors, Extreme Auto Parts and Swann Insurance, which allows the club to pass on more to its chosen charity than would otherwise be the case. The Sponsors’ Choice award went to a beautiful blue 1956 Ford Thunderbird.
The awarding of People’s Choice to the slippery stealth-black 1967 Mustang brought prize-giving to a close, and the post-mortem could begin. No doubt whichever way you added up the many and various elements that went into making the Extreme All USA Car Show a success for the participants and spectators, the resultant verdict would be that it was a great day out.
Photos: John McTavish